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The Civil War in the Indian Territory

1890 Veterans Census for No Man's Land of Oklahoma
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1890 Veterans Census for Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma
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The Indian Territory at the Beginning of the Civil War.

The dawning of the Civil War period was a most unhappy event for the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes. With the exception of the Seminole, they had all been at peace with the white men for nearly a half century, and some of them for twice that long. They were prosperous in their way, raising fields of grain and cotton and having large herds of live stock. Not a few of them owned Negro slaves, by whom most of the field labor was performed. Their life was simple and care-free and their few wants were easily supplied. It is plain, even yet, that they would have preferred to have remained at peace with the world. Naturally, they hesitated about taking sides in what was a white man 's quarrel. Their friendly relations with the government of the United States had existed undisturbed so long that they were loath to make any experiment in the way of a change. On the other hand, all of these tribes had come from the South. Some, at least, of their domestic and social institutions were those that were peculiar to the South, and, moreover, many of their people peculiar to the South, and, moreover, many of their people were related by ties of marriage and blood to the people of the South. For these reasons many of the Indians felt that duty called for a new allegiance even though the pleasant associations of the past were too strong to be lightly cast aside.

Declaration of the Choctaw Council.

At the time of the outbreak of the Civil War neither railroad nor telegraph extended as far as the borders of the Indian Territory. News from the East, where the exciting preliminary Scenes of the great strife were being enacted, was slow in penetrating the distant realms of the Red Man yet, when it was received, it was pondered and discussed with eager interest. On February 7, 1861, the Choctaw National Council adopted resolutions expressive of its regret at the unhappy conditions due to the political disagreement of the Northern and Southern states, recalling the long and friendly alliance between the government of the United States and the Choctaw people, but, at the same time, declaring that, in event of the permanent dissolution of the Union. their natural affiliation and alignment would be with the people of the South.

Beginning of the War in the Indian Territory.

Fort Smith was seized by the Confederate forces April 23, 1861. A Confederate force from Texas, under the command of Col. W. C. Young, appeared before Fort Arbuckle. which surrendered May 5, the garrison being permitted to retire to the North. Fort Cobb was abandoned May 9. Fort Washita was evacuated May 16 and was occupied by Confederate troops the next day.

Retreat of Federal Troops.

The garrisons of Forts Smith, Washita, Arbuckle and Cobb, having concentrated under the command of Lieut. Col. W. H. Emory, of the 2d U. S. Cavalry, marched out of the Indian Territory to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, four hundred miles distant.

Action of the Chickasaw Legislature.

On May 13, the Chickasaw Legislature, by resolution, declared that the alliance and friendship existing between the Chickasaw Nation and the United States was absolved in favor of an alliance with the Confederate States. The other tribes manifested more deliberation before taking such decisive action and several months passed before they were finally induced to consider the possibility of alliances with the Confederacy.

The Indian Territory a Confederate Military District.

May 13, Capt. Benjamin McCulloch, of Texas, was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army and assigned commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate Army and assigned to the command of the Military District of the Indian Territory. The forces placed under General McCulloch's command consisted of one regiment each from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. It was also proposed to raise three regiments among the Five Civilized Tribes to be attached to his command.

Confederate Government Seeks Friendship of the Indians.

L. P. Walker, Confederate Secretary of War, appointed David Hubbard, of Alabama, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the tribes of the Indian Territory, May 14, 1861. Superintendent Hubbard was directed to at once open negotiations with the Five Civilized Tribes for the purpose of attaching them to the Confederate cause. Capt. Albert Pike, of Arkansas, was appointed special commissioner to treat with the various tribes for the purpose of securing offensive and defensive alliances.

Divisions Among the Cherokee People.

While the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations were practically unanimous in their adherence to the Confederacy, the Indians of the Cherokee and Creek Nations were divided on the question of an alliance with the South. In the Cherokee Nation there  were two parties  one in favor of an immediate alliance with the Confederate States, the other, headed by John Ross,  declaring in favor of neutrality. Ross, as principal chief, had daring in favor of neutrality. Ross, as principal chief, had issued a proclamation (May 17, 1861) admonishing his people to remain neutral, and in this position he was backed by a majority of the Cherokee people.

Confederate Treaties with Indian Tribes.

Albert Pike, as commissioner of the Confederate States, met the representatives of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Nations at North Fork Town (Eufaula) July 10-12 and August 1, 1861, and negotiated formal treaties of friendship and alliance with each of those tribes. The Cherokee acted with more deliberation. In August a general convention of the Cherokee people was called by John Ross, as principal chief, for the purpose of considering the advisability of entering into an alliance with the Confederate States. This convention (August 21, 1861), after due deliberation, declared in favor of an alliance with the Confederate States, but the formal treaty to that effect was not signed until October 7, 1861. August 12, 1861, a treaty of alliance and friendship was concluded with representatives of parts of the Comanche, Wichita, Waco, Caddo, Anadarko, Tawakony, Tonkawa, Keechi and Delaware tribes. The meeting was held at the Wichita agency, now Anadarko. At Fort Gibson, October 2-4, 1861, Commissioner Pike met representatives of the Osage, Quapaw, Seneca and Shawnee tribes and negotiated treaties with them.

Changed Relations. Thus the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes were placed in the attitude of hostility toward the Government of the United States, with which most of them had been at peace since the beginning of the century. Living as they did they could not foresee the consequences of such a war or its possible effect upon their own interests. The general histories of that great conflict do not give much in the way of detail concerning the operations of contending armies in the Indian Territory, nor does a closer investigation reveal any great strategic advantages gained therefrom. But, for all that, war  brutal, cruel, destructive, wasteful war came home to the people of the Five Tribes during the years that followed. If it was the White Man's quarrel, it also became the source of the Red Man's woe.

Flight of the Tribes on the Washita.

When Fort Cobb, was abandoned at the outbreak of the Civil War, the Caddo. Keechi and other Indians who had abandoned their homes on the Brazos only two years before, and who dreaded further trouble with the people of Texas, hurriedly left their new homes and followed the retreating troops northward. Wichita, Waco, Tawakony and Delaware afterwards pursued the same course. 

Hostilities in the Indian Territory.

After concluding treaties with in. Hostilities in the Indian Territory.After concluding treaties with practically all of the tribes which occupied reservations in the Indian Territory, the organization of Indian troops for the Confederate service was rapidly pushed forward. General Albert Pike being placed in command Not all of the Indians were willing to accept the alliance with Confederate States, however. Many of the Creek and Cherokee Indians remained loyal to the Union, even though the Federal Government seemed to have abandoned them at the time. Late in the autumn of 1861 about 2500 of these gathered under the command of a Creek leader by the name of Hu-pui-hilth Yohola. They were poorly equipped for a campaign, having neither military arms nor proper equipped for a campaign, having neither military arms nor proper organization. In November. 1861, the Confederate
Indian forces to the number of 1,500, under the command of Col. Douglas Cooper, marched up the Deep Fork Valley in search of the Union Indian force under Hu-pui-hilth Yohola.
The latter retired northward, but the trail was followed by Colonel Cooper's command. The Union Indians were overtaken at a point north of the Cimarron Rivert where, on the evening of November 19. a battle was fought, resulting in a Confederate victory.

Union Indians Again Defeated.

Reorganizing his forces, Ilu-pui-hilth Yohola attacked Colonel Cooper's command at Chusto-Talasah, on Bird Creek, December 9, 1861. A hot fight ensued but the Union Indians were repulsed. Cooper's force then scouted as far north as the Kansas line. The force under Colonel Cooper, which was composed of Indian troops, moved up the north bank of the Arkansas; that under Col. James McIntosh, consisting of troops from Arkansas and Texas, marched up the valley of the Verdigris. The latter found the Union Indians at Shoal Creek, December 16, 1861. In the fight which followed, since known as the Battle of Chustenahlah, the Union Indians were again defeated and dispersed.

A Winter of Suffering.

The Indians who openly avowed their loyalty to the Union had nearly all gathered north of the Kansas line. The sufferings of these refugees during the winter of 1861-2 are almost indescribable. They had abandoned homes and farms and stock. Few of them had tents or shelter of any description. Most of them were scantily clothed, many without shoes, and food was scarce. Sickness followed exposure and hundreds of the refugees died.

The Battle of Pea Ridge and Its Effect.

In March, 1862, the Confederate forces under Gen. Albert Pike were marched across the Indian Territory to participate in a campaign under Generals Price and Van Dorn. At the Battle of Pea Ridge, March 6, 1862, the Confederates were defeated by the Union forces under the command of Gen. S. R. Curtis. The effect of this battle was demoralizing on the Indian troops in the Confederate service, and their attachment to its fortunes was greatly weakened.

Federal Activity in the Indian Territory.

Soon after the Union victory at the Battle of Pea Ridge, E. II. Carruth, Federal Commissioner to the Indian tribes of the Indian Territory, addressed letters to the leaders and chiefs of each of the Five Civilized Tribes, urging that they renew their allegiance and friendly relations with the Federal Govern- A large part of the Cherokee regiment of Col. John Drew, which had been raised for the Confederate service in compliance with the terms of the treaty between the Confederate States and the Cherokee Nation, deserted the Confederate cause and went over to the Union in a body. These shortly afterwards formed the nucleus for the organization of one of the Indian regiments in the Union service.About the same time Gen. James W. Denver, was assigned to the command of the Union forces in the Indian Territory.

Organization of Union Indian Troops.

The organization of three Indian regiments for the Union service in the Indian Territory was authorized April 2, 1862. They were organized immediately thereafter. Col. R. W. Furnas of the 1st Indian Regiment, was placed in command of the brigade.

Cherokee Country Invaded by Union Troops.

June 22, 1862, a force of 5,000 Union troops (including three Indian regiments under command of Col. William Weir, marched southward from Humboldt, Kansas, and entered the Cherokee country. An attempt was made to enter into negotiations with John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, which offer was courteously declined. The only opposition to the advance of this force was that of Col. Stand Watie's Cherokee regiment. Gen. Albert Pike, who was in command of the Confederate military district of the Indian Territory, maintained his headquarters and held most of his forces at Fort McCulloch, on the Blue River, in the southwestern part of the Choctaw country, although repeatedly ordered by General Hindman, department commander, to move them northward for the protection of the Cherokee country. General Pike finally resigned, and when relieved of his command was temporarily succeeded by Col. Douglas H. Cooper. Colonel Cooper at once advanced his command to the Arkansas River, where it was united with that of Col.

The Tonkawa Massacre.

Of the Indians of the tribes on the Washita, the Tonkawa alone remained attached to the Confederate agency at Anadarko. In October, 1862, a band of loyal Indians, including members of the Delaware, Creek, Shawnee and Kickapoo tribes, raided the Tonkawa camp near Anadarko and killed the greater part of the tribe.

Second Federal Invasion.

The Kansas division of the Army of the Frontier, under the command of Gen. James G. Blunt, attacked the Confederate forces under command of Col. Douglas H. Cooper at Old Fort Wayne, in the Cherokee country (near Maysville, Arkansas), October 22, 1862. The battle resulted in a victory for the Union forces, the Confederate troops retreating in great haste, westward, by way of Fort Gibson, across the Arkansas River, to Fort Davis. Fort Gibson was occupied by a force of Federal troops (3d Indian Regiment) under command of Col. William A. Phillips, November 9. From that time on, to the end of the war, Fort Gibson remained in possession of the Federal forces and was the base from which all of their operations in the Indian Territory were performed.

Ross Deposed.

While the Federal forces were occupying the Cherokee country, Colonel Cooper sent a message to John Ross in the name of the President of the Confederate States, demanding that he issue a proclamation calling on all Cherokee Indians between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five to enroll themselves in the Confederate military service. Ross failed to do so. When the Federal forces retired northward, a national convention of the Cherokee was held at which John Ross was declared to be deposed from the office of principal chief and Stand Watie was selected to succeed him.

Capture and Destruction of Fort Davis.

December 27, 1862, Col. William A. Phillips, in command of a Federal force, crossed the Arkansas River from Fort Gibson, attacked and captured Fort Davis, a Confederate post, situated a few miles from Fort Gibson. After driving the Confederate forces southward to the Canadian River, Fort Davis was destroyed, the barracks and commissary buildings being burned.

Reorganization of Cherokee Nation Under Federal Rule.

Many members of the Cherokee National Council were in the Federal military service. These, constituting a quorum were in the Federal military service. These, constituting a quorum and refusing to recognize the legality of the election of Stand Watie as principal chief, convened in February, 1863, at Camp John Ross, Capt. Thomas Pegg acting as principal chief. Among the acts of the Council was one repudiating the alliance with the Confederate States, and another abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude in the Cherokee Nation.

Operations in Indian Territory in 1863.

Early in January, 1813, Gen. William Steele was assigned to the command of the Confederate military district of the Indian Territory. During the first half of the year there was but little activity on the part of either of the contending forces in the Indian Territory, though there were several ineffectual attempts to destroy the line of communication between Fort Gibson and its base of supplies in Kansas. A Confederate brigade, under the command of Gen. Douglas H. Cooper, was in camp at a point known as Honey Springs, on Elk Creek, a few miles from Fort Gibson, and south of the Arkansas River. Crossing the Arkansas above the mouth of the Verdigris, Gen. James G. Blunt, at the head of a force of about 3,000 troops and two batteries of artillery, moved against Cooper's camp July 16. The battle began about ten o'clock in the morning and raged fiercely for several hours. It resulted in a defeat of the Confederate forces, which retired southward across the Canadian River, after losing 550 men in killed and wounded, seventy-seven prisoners, one piece of artillery, one stand of colors, and two hundred stands of arms and fifteen wagons. The Confederates burned their entire commissary before retreating.

Action at Webber's Falls.

On account of the scarcity of food and forage, nearly all of the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory retired to the valley of the Red River, where they remained until spring was well advanced. Col. Stand Watie, with a small force of Cherokee troops, remained nearer the Arkansas River, which was the line which then separated the contending forces. Several small skirmishes between Stand Watie's command and Union troops at Fort Gibson took place during the winter of 1862-3 and the following spring. A call was issued for a meeting of the (Confederate) Cherokee Council to be held at Webber's Falls, April 25. Learning this, Col. William A. Phillips, in command of the Federal forces at Fort Gibson, t after a forced march of thirty miles in the night, surprised and defeated the command of Stand Watie, killing, wounding and capturing a number of men, besides taking the camp equipage and preventing the proposed legislative session.

Actions Near Fort Gibson.

May 20, 1863, Gen. D. H. Cooper's Indian brigade crossed the Arkansas River near Fort Gibson and attempted to capture the cattle and horses of the Federal forces stationed at that place under Col. W. A. Phillips. The Federal commander was taken by surprise as a result of the inefficiency of several of his outposts. He at once attacked the Confederates, however, the ensuing contest being severe with the result in doubt, until he was reinforced by a strong reserve. The Confederates were then driven into the woods. The loss in killed and wounded was severe on both sides. Ten days later the Confederates attacked a supply train, en route from Fort Scott, a few miles from Fort Gibson. The military escort of the supply train having been heavily reinforced, the attacking Confederates were repulsed, leaving thirty-five of their number dead on the field.

The Perryville Expedition.

After several unimportant skirmishes, Gen. James G. Blunt, in command of the Army of the Frontier, fitted out an expedition of 4,500 men to take the field against the Confederate forces under Gen. William Steele, which were concentrated south of the South Canadian River on the Texas Road (i. e., near the present town of Canadian, in Pittsburg county), August 22, 1863. Upon his arrival at the Confederate encampment he found that General Steele's forces had been divided, the brigade of General Cabell marching eastward to Fort Smith, the Creek force under Col. D. N. Mclntosh going westward up the valley of the Canadian, while the forces of Gen. D. H. Cooper and Col. Stand Watie had gone southward toward the Red River. The Federal forces immediately started in pursuit of the latter. The rear guard of the Confederate" forces was overtaken and engaged several times, but owing to the exhausted condition of both men and animals of the pursuing force, they did not proceed further south than the town of Perryville. This town, which was a Confederate supply depot, was captured and destroyed by General Blunt. The Federal commander then marched his forces back to Fort Gibson.

Capture of Fort Smith.

A Federal force under the command of Gen. James G. Blunt descended the Arkansas River from Fort Gibson and occupied Fort Smith, September 1, 1863. Fort Smith had long been an objective point in the campaign plans of Federal commanders in the Southwest and its capture was regarded as a decisive gain by them.

A New Confederate Commander.

Because of the lack of harmony in the conduct of  the affairs of the Military District of the Indian Territory, General Steele was relieved of command, and Gen. Samuel B. Maxey was assigned to the position as his successor, December 11, 1863.

Refugee Indians.

After the permanent occupation of Forts Gibson and Smith by the Federal forces, all of that part of the Territory which was embraced in the valleys of the Arkansas and Canadian Rivers became untenable for the Indians who had adhered to the Confederate cause. They were, therefore, forced to seek refuge in the valley of the Red River. Like the Indians who had tied to the Kansas border at the outbreak of the War, they experienced great privation and suffering, and their destitute condition only added to the already heavy burdens of the Confederate military authorities.

A Winter Campaign.

At the beginning of the year 1864, the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory under the command of Gen. S. B. Maxey, were distributed along the command of Gen. S. B. Maxey, were distributed along the valley of the Red River in the southern parts of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, at Forts Towson, McCulloch and Washita, and at Boggy Station. February 1, a Federal expedition was fitted out at Fort Gibson under the personal command of Col. W. A. Phillips for the purpose of entering upon an offensive campaign in the Creek, Seminole, Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. The entire command marched to the mouth of Little River (in what is now Hughes county), where the infantry and wagon train rested while Col. Phillips, with a force of 450 mounted men and one piece of artillery, pushed on southward and westward nearly to Fort Washita. The latter was abandoned by the Confederates but was not occupied by the Federals. After returning to the rest of the command, small forces were sent out to scout over the Seminole country and the valleys of the Canadian and of the North Fork, to the west. The expedition, which was undertaken for its moral effect, lasted just one month and was counted a success. Copies of a proclamation addressed to the Indians urging them to. renew their peaceful relations with the Federal Government were distributed, and personal letters were also sent to John Jumper, principal chief of the Seminole, and Winchester Colbert, principal chief of the Chickasaw, and one to the Choctaw Council, which was then in session. A large number of wagons, drawn by oxen, were captured and used on the return march to Fort Gibson to haul captured corn.

Battle of Poison Spring.

In the latter part of March, 1864, when the Federal forces under the command of Gen. Frederick Steele began the advance toward Camden from Little Rock, a part of the Confederate troops in the Indian Territory, namely, General Gano's Texas Brigade, and Col. Tandy Walker's Choctaw Indian Brigade, were transferred  to Arkansas under the command of Gen. S. B. Maxey.The principal action in which the Indian Territory troops were engaged was that known as the Battle of Poison Spring (Arkansas), which was fought April 18, and in which the victory was with the Confederate arms. The Choctaw Brigade captured a wagon train and a battery of artillery. The action of the Indian troops was highly commended by the commanding officers.

Capture of Federal Supply Steamer.

Gen. Stand Watie, with a battery of artillery, fired upon and finally captured a steamboat which was ascending the Arkansas from Fort Smith to Fort Gibson, at Pheasant Bluff (near the mouth of the Canadian), June 15, 1864. The steamboat was loaded with flour, pork and other supplies for the troops at Fort Gibson. Gen. Stand Watie's forces were so elated with the captured prize that they at once began to carry off provisions in defiance of all military discipline, and, consequently, when he was attacked by a Federal detachment he did not have a force strong enough to protect the supplies which he had captured until they could be removed, and they had to be burned.

Federal Supply Train Captured.

The Confederate forces in the Indian Territory having been considerably recruited, it was decided that part of them should assume the offensive. Accordingly, the brigades of Generals Gano and Stand Watie, consisting of about 2,000 troops with six pieces of artillery, crossed the Arkansas River near the Creek Agency, September 15, 1864. Moving northeastward across the Verdigris, the combined commands reached the Federal military road from Fort Gibson to Fort Scott. This road was followed northward to Pryor Creek, where a Federal hay camp was attacked (September 16), its guard being defeated and dispersed with heavy loss, and over 3,000 tons of hay destroyed. The Confederate forces then marched northward along the Fort Scott road on the lookout for a large wagon train of supplies for the Federal forces in and about Fort Gibson. This they met (with an escort of about six hundred men) at Cabin Creek. The escort made a stubborn resistance, holding the attacking force at bay for six hours, but. in the end, the artillery and superior numbers of the latter triumphed, the former being driven from the field. Almost the entire train, consisting of 300 wagons loaded with government stores and post trader's goods, together with nearly 1300 horses and mules, were captured. The escort retired in good order, though with heavy loss in killed, wounded and captured. A Federal detachment under the command of Col. J. M. Williams, consisting entirely of infantry and artillery, arrived on the scene of the disaster after a forced march of eighty miles in forty-eight hours, and opened fire on the Confederates. This engagement continued till nightfall, the Federal troops bivouacking on the field. The Confederate forces retired during the night, taking with them 129 of
the captured wagons. The rest of the wagons were burned, as were all their contents that could not be carried away. The Confederates retired by a circuitous route, crossing the Verdigris at Claremore Mound (Sageeyah), the Arkansas at Tulsey Town (Tulsa), and the Canadian at North Fork Town (Eufaula). The result of this brief and stirring campaign was a serious loss to the Federals, while it greatly encouraged the Confederates, and furnished them with a large quantity of much needed supplies.

A Season of Inactivity.

During the last winter of the Civil War there was but little activity on the part of the troops of either side in the Indian Territory. The approach of the end of the war was apparent even in the official correspondence of the period. General Maxey having retired from the command of the Confederate forces in the Indian Territory, was succeeded by Gen. Douglas H. Cooper.

An Indian Peace Compact.

For some time prior to the cessation of hostilities, the Indians of the Five Civilized Tribes who adhered to the Confederate cause had been seeking to arrange a general council with the Indians of the tribes of the Southern Plains region. It was proposed to hold such a general council at Council Grove, on the North Canadian River, on the first of May, 1865. Instead it was held at Camp Napoleon, on the Washita, on May 26, 1865. t Three weeks later the principal chiefs of the Creek and Seminole Nations joined in an address urging all Indian tribes or bands, including those which had adhered to the Federal Government and opposed the Confederacy, to drop all past differences and become parties to the peace compact.

The Dawn of Peace.

By virtue of a convention entered into May 26, 1865, Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department of the Confederate Army, surrendered the forces under his command to Gen. Edward R. S. Canby, commanding the Military Division of West Mississippi. Gen. Douglas H. Cooper carried out the terms agreed upon between General Canby and General Kirby Smith, in so far as the white troops of his command were concerned, but stated that it would be impracticable and even dangerous for him to attempt to surrender the Indian troops. The latter claimed to have entered the war as independent allies of the Confederacy, and reserved the right to treat directly with the United States government for the return of peace. The Cherokee forces under Gen. Stand Watie surrendered to Lieut. Col. A. C. Matthews at Doaksville, Choctaw Nation, June 23. The Choctaw agreed, through their principal chief, P. P. Pitchlynn, to cease hostilities at the same time. The peace terms by which the Chickasaw agreed to cease hostilities were signed by Governor Winchester Colbert of that nation about two weeks later nearly three months after the surrender of Lee's Army.

Internal Dissensions a Result of the Civil War.

The close of the Civil War found the Indian Territory rent in twain by factions. The Creek and Cherokee were nearly equally divided in the fratricidal strife, and probably nowhere in the United States did the conflict leave such bitterness. Not only were small predatory bands common, but the old feud between the factions had been intensified by the four years of warfare until there was a determined feeling on each side that the other should not return home. For some time, indeed, military authority was necessary to preserve order.
The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations having been almost united in their support of the Confederacy, there was very little factional trouble within their boundaries.

A Peace Council Called.

June 18, 1865, Peter P. Pitchlynn, principal chief of the Choctaw Nation, issued a proclamation calling for a general peace council of all the tribes of the Indian Territory to convene September 1, at Armstrong Academy in the Choctaw Nation. It was proposed to meet the commissioners of the United States for the purpose of renewing the treaties which had been abrogated by the several tribes at the outbreak of the war. The war being at an end, the Indians were naturally anxious as to the terms upon which new treaties might be made. The general council of the Indians of the tribes residing in the Indian Territory was held at Fort Smith, Arkansas, in September, 1865. The tribes represented were the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Comanche, Creek, Osage, Quapaw, Seminole, Seneca, Shawnee, Wichita and Wyandotte. The representatives on the part of the United States were: D. N. Cooley, Commissioner of Indian Affairs; Elijah Sells, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Thomas Wistar, Gen. W. S. Harney, and Col. E. S. Parker.

Peace Conditions.

At this council the Indians were informed that those tribes which had entered into treaties of alliance with the late Confederate government had forfeited all of their old rights of consideration and protection from the government of the United States, and that their property was subject to confiscation. They were given to understand, however, that the Government did not wish to be harsh, but that it would insist upon some conditions to which these tribes would have to agree before their former treaty relations could be renewed. These conditions or stipulations included the abolition of slavery, and the union of all the tribes in the Indian Territory into one commonwealth with a territorial form of government. The former Negro slaves of the Indians were also to be accorded full tribal rights. To some of these stipulations some of the tribes strongly demurred, and, after a fruitless session of thirteen days, the council adjourned September 21, to meet at Washington the next year.


The results of the Civil War had a pathetic aspect from almost any viewpoint, but from none more so than that of the people of the Indian Territory. With homes and belongings destroyed, farms laid waste, stock driven away, and owners compelled to flee for refuge, the story of ruin seems almost complete. Added to this was the presence and activity of a lawless element which knew no feeling of loyal attachment to either side, but, on the contrary, plundered and robbed from the people of both sides as occasion offered. If the picture is not dark enough, it is only necessary to investigate the criminally dishonest business methods of the contractors who furnished supplies for the dependent Indians, and to read the record of bickering and jealousy which distinguished rival aspirants for military promotion in both armies. In short, the story of the Civil War in the Indian Territory is not one which inspires the heart of a white man with a feeling of pride in his race. In striking contrast with such a picture of human selfishness and unworthiness are the heroic figures of some leaders in both armies who acted from motives of sincerest patriotism. Moreover, the patience and fortitude with which the mass of the Indian people endured hardships and privations, is one of which the people of any commonwealth might well be proud.

Source: "A History of Oklahoma" By Joseph Bradfield Thoburn, Isaac Mason Holcomb 1908 - Submitted by Barb Ziegenmeyer

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